© BRIDE by Natasha Jane 2011-2018

Bridal Gowns come in 6 basic shapes and getting to know which of these silhouettes suits your frame and figure best can make the shopping experience much easier and enjoyable. We can advise you about which shapes are likely to be best for you, but only by trying will you really know which dress shapes work best for you or which to stay clear of.

Ball Gown

The most traditional shape of wedding gowns, designed give the real princess look. This is a dramatic and full wedding gown which generally has a well fitted corset, or bodice, and the skirt is very full with lots of netting underneath to give even more body. Trains are generally mid to long to even longer with ball gowns and this style looks amazing for church weddings and large hotels.

Good for: Most body shapes.

Not so good for: Petite frames as the bride can tend to look lost in the fabric.

Slinky/Sheath Gown

This is definitely coming into bridal fashion at present for brides looking for something different. Also popular for weddings abroad due to ease of travel plus they are also lighter and cooler to wear on the beach than a ball gown! The materials used can be slipper satins and silks, with jewel encrustments. Due to the nature of the materials and the cut, this style is not for the shy of heart.

Good for: Proportional builds as they tend to emphasise the lower half. We have seen these gowns look amazing on fuller figured girls, however the right lingerie must be worn to achieve a smooth sexy silhouette.

Not so good for: Brides worried about lumps and bumps as you cannot hide in this style, but bring along your Spanx Pants and give it a try, you may be pleasantly surprised!


The Empire cut emphasises the bust as the waist line is higher than usual, lying just under the bust. The flowing material under the bust is generally very flattering to a fuller waist line and is also ideal for pregnant brides who are not keen on the corseted bodice of a ball gown. This style lends itself well to having sleeves or straps.

Good for: Small busts, petite frames as it the straighter skirt can add inches to your height.

Not so good for: Large busts and shoulders as this only serves to emphasise this area.

A-line/Princess Cut

This is a popular shape as, like the ball gown, it can disguise all the areas that brides generally want to hide, leaving smooth classic lines and a confident bride. The A-line is so-called due to the slim fitting torso section and the fuller, flared skirt, making an 'A' shape.

Good for: all body shapes

Mermaid or Fishtail

This style, like the Slinky, is designed to show off your womanly curves and let's face it our men love them even if we don't. The Mermaid dress is typically cut to synch in at the waist and just above the knees to accentuate your bust, waist and hips. Absolutely stunning.

Good for: Lucky slim figured ladies out there, of all heights

Not so good for: Fuller hips as they tend to emphasise this area.

Prom/50s tea dress

Making a come back into bridal fashion is the simple prom dress, usually with netting galore to give a full swishing skirt. Great for those of you looking for something different or a second marriage perhaps? Stunning with Audrey length veils, little gloves and killer heels!

Good for: Brides wanting to show off their shapely legs, any body shape can look good in this length.

Not so good for: Heavy legs

We are grateful to the BBRA (British Bridal Retailers Association) for this article